Search for next Missouri education commissioner narrows | St. Louis Public Radio

Search for next Missouri education commissioner narrows

Oct 28, 2018

The Missouri State Board of Education plans to interview four people for the state’s next education commissioner, a position that’s been empty nearly a year.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been run by an interim commissioner since last December when former Gov. Eric Greitens orchestrated the firing of then-Commissioner Margie Vandeven by stacking the school board with loyalists.

The current search yielded five applications and an additional seven nominations.

“All the applications and all the nominations were highly qualified individuals and I think we were grateful for the level of interest that is in the position,” Board President Charlie Shields said at their monthly meeting last week.

Among the possible candidates is Roger Dorson, a deputy commissioner who has led the department since Vandeven’s sacking.

Shields praised Dorson’s oversight of the department over the summer, saying he was “certainly an option” to take the position full time. Vandeven was an internal hire.

Retiring Rockwood Superintendent Eric Knost is among the applicants. He announced he’s stepping down from the west St. Louis County district this month and applied for the state’s top education post.

“I have other aspirations to consider, and I am excited to think about the next chapter in my life. You can rest assured; I do feel there is plenty of good work for me to pursue,” he wrote in his public resignation letter.

Knost has been an outspoken critic of standardized testing and the firing of Vandeven.

This is actually the second replacement search. Former Gov. Greitens’ appointees tried earlier this year to fast-track hiring someone before facing Senate confirmation but failed to pick someone in time. Then the board was left without enough members to hold a meeting for six months.

Board members are planning to interview finalists mid-November.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney